Pollution Inspector’s Death Leads Detainment Of Two

Hebei province, China
Men walk past the Hebei Zongheng Iron and Steel plant that is under construction at the Tangshan Fengnan Economic Development Zone, Hebei province, China August 22, 2018
(Photo: REUTERS/Joyce Zhou)

According to Reuters, which in turn cited the report from a state-held news agency, China Daily, the inspector, Chen Ben, was a member of the enforcement team convened by the city of Wenling's environmental department and police bureau.

As indicated in the account, Chen was run over by a vehicle driven by the two people on Saturday evening whilst investigating a pollution case.

Inspectors like Chen often face obstructions in their efforts to implement the government's environmental policies. Beijing's strategy was to impose them at the grassroots level, however, even the local governments sometimes show reluctance in giving help in the crackdown of harmful industry operations which, on the one hand, have been quite profitable.

One of the many challenges faced by the bureau includes numerous cover-ups of violations committed by guilty parties. Worse case scenarios would be for certain individuals to directly issue threats of violence to inspectors. These threats often progress to become committed acts.

Just these recent months, a group of environmental protection officers operating in Shaanxi province was beaten up by several construction workers, the report from Reuters said.

Cases such as these have led the central government to beef up its supervisory powers in cracking down violators. One of the few steps already taken by Beijing was to make use of police forces in respective areas as well as judicial bodies and anti-corruption organizations to expedite legal proceedings in relation to environmental crimes and hasten up the execution of punishment on guilty parties.

More than so, the Xi Jinping administration has also sought ways to improve the status of environmental bureaus which are usually under-manned and weak. There's also a proposal to increase the degree of punishments for companies that refuse to cooperate with visiting members of the agency who will be there to inspect any instances of environmental violations.

As of the recent implementation, Beijing reported improving enforcement rates.

China's Blue Skies Initiative

China has long been working to enforce its initiative of bringing back the metaphorical blue skies in the country. As previously reported here on Business Times, Beijing was among the first cities to finally reap the fruits of the government's environmental policies.

In the nation's capital, the Bloomberg report said that the city's smog concentration has dropped drastically by at least 30 percent just for this year.

In Hebei province meanwhile, the local government imposed much stricter emissions standards that need to be followed by steel mills.

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